Monster Spreadsheet Pitfalls: Why Replace Excel with CPQ?

Lurking in your sales quoting process is the monster spreadsheet. It’s big, cumbersome and sometimes unruly. You’re team has been using this manual system to create quotes for so long now that [...]

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Lurking in your sales quoting process is the monster spreadsheet. It’s big, cumbersome and sometimes unruly. You’re team has been using this manual system to create quotes for so long now that it’s hard to imagine doing it another way.

The Excel whiz that created your quoting spreadsheet system probably thinks it’s like a hand-built Ferrari engine. He is proud of it, but it’s admittedly complex. Of course this provides some job security because he is likely the only one who can maintain the monster. Your sales people may also be comfortable – very few people like change – even though the manual configure, price and quote process is time-draining and error-prone.

Maintaining the status quo, because your team is used to it, is not always what’s best for your business. Despite being the industry standard for spreadsheets, Excel has clear drawbacks when it comes to creating sales quotes. There are some things Excel simply can’t do for sales users.

1.Setting rules. Adding new rules can be a cumbersome process. The formulas and tables can be very confusing for someone who is not updating the spreadsheets daily. So, generally, a sales department relies on an Excel guru to administer the quoting system and maintain the rules. In many organizations it takes days and lots of testing to get new rules working correctly and to make sure the rest of the rules still work too.

2.Quote approval. A big pain point for many organizations is getting the quotes out the door. Because sales users need to gather information from disparate pricing sheets and input them into the quoting spreadsheets, the organization spends more time on quote approval. Did the rep use the latest pricing sheet? Did the rep correctly select the right combination of options and service plans? Is this a special price request that needs additional approvals? Manual quoting requires manual verification of accuracy and approvals that slow the process.

3.Scalability. As businesses grow, their product and service offerings grow with them. Thus, their quoting spreadsheets keep growing and growing. For complex products and recurring services, manual quoting eventually becomes impossible to sustain while delivering accurate quotes to prospects.

4.Maintenance. Relying on one Excel whiz to maintain your configure, price and quote spreadsheets is a disaster waiting to happen. If the whiz is unavailable or on vacation, then peers will likely struggle and may be unable to figure out the calculations or unlock the spreadsheet to make updates. There is also the risk that your organization may not be able to access your spreadsheets on shared network drives because they were accidentally deleted, not backed up, or the network drive was unavailable.

5.Real-time data. Another downside of the cumbersome, manual quoting process is that you can’t see your sales funnel. Sales managers have little or no visibility into the history of quotes that reps or channel partners send to prospects or what’s in the pipeline. Without some intense custom reporting and an individual dedicated to generating these reports on a regular schedule, you’ll be hard pressed to link your quotes with an opportunity, so you can see value of your deals today.

We understand that sales organizations and administrators can view their Excel system as a security blanket of sorts. But it’s this false sense of security that slows down your quoting process and puts deals at risk. Cloud-based CPQ software can liberate your sales team from the spreadsheet monster, so you can maximize the value of every sale, quickly.

Learn more about what you can do with automated CPQ solutions and how to capture more revenue faster.

Rainmaker 2014 – A Renaissance in Revenue Management

Webster describes Rainmaker as someone who brings in new business. Another dictionary calls it – one who is known for achieving excellent results in a profession or field, such as business or [...]

Webster describes Rainmaker as someone who brings in new business. Another dictionary calls it – one who is known for achieving excellent results in a profession or field, such as business or politics.

Rainmaker 2014 was Model N’s 10th annual in a series of many successful ones, this one being in historic Savannah. It was my first and I was interested in learning more from the customers and about their thoughts about Revenue Management.

Attendees at Rainmaker have been the trail blazers in driving and executing Revenue Management strategies within their industries. Despite the clear risks and costs, most companies (not the attendees) have very little in the way of visibility and control of Revenue Management processes that could help reduce revenue erosion and prevent non-compliance. Many remain in the Dark Ages of Revenue Management, using spreadsheets and custom systems or no systems to manage their revenue, and leaving revenue on the table. In just one industry, Pharmaceuticals, $11B is lost annually in incentives and rebates per an IDC study. In stark contrast, the leaders at Rainmaker have effectively recaptured billions of dollars in lost revenues.

The over 200 Revenue Management leaders that attended this event were open and willing to share best practices, what worked, what did not, and there was a good, healthy debate on a number of topics. Overall, there was resounding agreement that transforming Revenue Management to a strategic end-to-end process is a clear competitive advantage. Remember I said Rainmaker attendees are trail blazers, leaders, innovators and are increasing revenues for their organizations, they were of course keen on how to take Revenue Management to the next level.

CRM2_0Revenue Management is a cross-functional business process that cuts across multiple-functions such as marketing, sales, finance, and legal. The revenue management process extends beyond the enterprise boundaries into the channels. The current revenue management process is broken. People in various functions in an organization throw things over the wall usually in spreadsheets and hope the other side of the wall will catch it.

At Model N, we thrive on bringing the voice of the customer into our organization and listening to our customers one common theme has been to drive a closed-loop system so that they can link sales and marketing dollars to maximizing revenues.

This requires that we need to think outside the traditional boundaries of Revenue Management. And indeed we have brought Revenue Management out of the Dark Ages and transformed it into a strategic end-to-end process introducing the notion of a single, integrated, end-to-end revenue management platform to integrate people, process, technology, and data. The platform enables sales, marketing, legal, finance, and the channels to collaborate and be on the same page with a single view of revenue.

It’s not about adding and integrating Customer Relationship Management systems and Revenue Management together, but about unifying and multiplying the outcomes. With this vision, Model N has formed a partnership with salesforce.com in which Model N will develop a set of vertical applications under the REVVY brand that are built on the salesforce1 platform, that outperforms traditional alternatives, delivering speed and simplicity and security.

With this partnership and the REVVY applications, we will help our customers maximize revenues for sales, both direct and channel, and achieve three important objectives:

  1. Maximizing sell time, enabling the sales organization to be in front of customers selling focusing on efficiency reducing administrative and non-productive time.
  2. Maximizing revenue per opportunity, enabling sales to be effective focusing on the right opportunity, right offering and right pricing.
  3. Maximizing the number of opportunities.

Our robust unified data platform and robust analytical capabilities enable companies to turn their data into information, insight, action, revenue and revenue growth.

Naturally, a few customers stood out this year for their accomplishments in their Revenue Management journey. Model N recognized these companies with the 2014 Rainmaker Award for their commitment, vision and execution in improving sales effectiveness and Revenue Management. Recipients included: Boehringer Ingelheim, Merck & Co., Micrel Inc., Janssen Pharmaceuticals and ON Semiconductor. You can read more about their achievements here.

I look forward to reconvening at Rainmaker 2015 to hear what you’ve learned, share what we’ve learned and discuss strategies to drive the next step in Revenue Management.

How Model N CPQ Boosts CRM at the Last Stretch of the Sales Cycle

  Companies spend big bucks on customer relationship management (CRM) systems. In fact, Gartner forecasts CRM software revenue will reach $23.9 billion this year. The CRM umbrella is wide. [...]

 

Companies spend big bucks on customer relationship management (CRM) systems. In fact, Gartner forecasts CRM software revenue will reach $23.9 billion this year. The CRM umbrella is wide. It includes everything from customer service and support to marketing and sales. It’s a fairly broad category, but across the board automation is a critical component. Whether its help desk, email marketing or inventory control, automation enables businesses to streamline the lifecycle and improve the customer relationship.

The opportunities to improve CRM seem endless and there is a lot of talk about where CRM is heading. I agree that mobility, the Internet of things and e-commerce will be big drivers for CRM investment. Outside of these high-level drivers, I think that we’ll also see more CRM investment in niche sales automation tools that live outside the CRM tab for opportunity management, which centers on generating a qualified lead and handing him off to sales.

Strategic investment in tools that address the last stretch of the lifecycle will be where the rubber meets the road for increasing profitability of the customer relationship, particularly for organizations selling complex products and services.

One such tool is configure, price and quote (CPQ). CPQ software boosts CRM by automating part of the sales process that is repetitive, time-consuming and prone toerrors that leave money on the table. To give you an idea of how CPQ software can streamline the quoting process through automation, here’s a step-by-step look at how our Model N CPQ solution works:

• Lead comes into CRM system

• Sales rep accepts the lead and is ready to generate a quote

• Rep launches Model N CPQ from the sales opportunity in CRM

• Rep uses Model N CPQ to configure the quote

• Model N CPQ automatically guides rep through process according to rules and configurations

• Quote is generated and attached to opportunity

• Quote is automatically routed for approval if necessary, which is determined by terms

• Once approved, quote is released to customer

• Once sale closed, CRM creates customer record and billing info

• Aberdeen reports that B2B sales organizations that use CPQ software to streamline their quoting process achieve higher proposal volume, larger deal size and shorter sale cycles. The Aberdeen report is definitely worth a read; you can sign-up for a free registration to read the report.

It’s important to understand that CPQ software simplifies quoting and boosts CRM, but not all CPQ software is created equal. The most important aspect of any CPQ software is that people actually use it. This means the solution you choose needs to be simple and user-friendly. When you start looking at making an investment in CPQ ask a few crucial questions:

1. Is it native to my CRM?

2. Can it quote products, services and subscriptions together?

3. Will I need to write code every time there’s a change to quoting rules?

4. Can supervisors approve quotes in real-time?

You get one shot to earn your sales team’s acceptance of a new application and they’re a finicky group. Do your due diligence—compare solutions, talk to users and trial the software. After all, any investment in CRM and sales automation tools that don’t get used is just more money down the drain.

What’s in store for CRM for 2014?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen a number of predictions put forth in the CRM space. As pundits look into their crystal balls, it’s no surprise to see them home in on the “Internet of Things” [...]

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Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen a number of predictions put forth in the CRM space. As pundits look into their crystal balls, it’s no surprise to see them home in on the “Internet of Things” particularly after Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff announced his vision for the “Internet of Customers” whereby every Internet-connected device becomes a touch point for connecting with customers.

CRM tools will certainly advance as consumer devices are increasingly Internet-connected. That’s definitely where we’re headed in the long run. But from a shorter-term perspective, two things stand out to me as absolute certainties for CRM in 2014.

Mobile becomes the norm—anything less won’t be good enough

First, anything not built for mobile will be left behind. Companies have come to terms with the bring your own device (BYOD) phenomenon after consistent demands from employees. As a result, companies have either allowed staff to bring their own tablets and smartphones or opted for a choose your own device strategy, in which the company issues the device of choice to the user. In fact, Gartner has said that by this year 30 percent of sales organizations will issue tablets as the primary device for sales staff. With iPads and Droids in hand, users won’t embrace any systems or processes that can’t be done while mobile. Whether it’s an off-the-shelf tool or a homegrown custom application, every new CRM undertaking will count mobility as a core requirement.

In addition to mobility, usability will be a key driver to adoption of new CRM applications. If it doesn’t make the process easier for sales teams, they won’t use it. Forcing sales teams to use a cumbersome legacy in-house system will no longer work. With SaaS solutions a click and a credit card away, it’s easy for business managers to go around the company system that fails to meet their needs and get what they truly want.

CPQ steps into the limelight for CRM

We’ll also see more of the sales process benefit from automation. Most organizations continue to lack a unified view of customers that includes current and past quotes, contracts and transactions. They still live with the manual inputs and lost cycle time spent crafting quotes for products and services. This translates into longer sales cycles that lose deals and lack visibility into workflow and contracts. For the rest of 2014, this will change and we’ll see a surge in organizations connecting their CRM systems with configure, price and quote (CPQ) processes.

By automating CPQ, companies can maximize return through contract management and provide sales teams with an end-to-end view that allows for execution of cross-sell and up-sell opportunities and minimizes costly errors. Ultimately, linking CRM and CPQ will increase the value of every customer relationship.

Stronger software solutions for automating quoting and contract management are now available and will fill a void on the technology front. However, it’s not necessarily the technology that is driving CPQ into the limelight and stimulating change. Rather it’s the customers’ requirements for better service. Overall, businesses are increasingly reshaping their perspectives by putting themselves in the shoes of their customers. They’re asking right question—how does the customer want to do business?—instead of forcing the company’s outdated processes on customers.

In the case of CPQ, customers demand that businesses be more responsive and CPQ systems provide the sales force with the tools they need to make the sales process easier on their customers.

The customer experience is the common thread among each and every evolution that has taken place and will take place in the CRM space; in 2014 the customer will continue to drive significant change.

What do you think will be the biggest change to CRM in 2014?

3 reasons why Salesforce.com falls short when it comes to contracts

When it comes to enterprise solutions, organizations normally gravitate to just a handful of vendors. Whether it’s SAP, Oracle, or another major player, the list is pretty short, and [...]

When it comes to enterprise solutions, organizations normally gravitate to just a handful of vendors. Whether it’s SAP, Oracle, or another major player, the list is pretty short, and unfortunately the cost per solution is high. Enterprise solutions often end up costing millions, or even tens of millions, of dollars.

Since these systems are such large investments, companies tend to stretch their capabilities to ensure a positive ROI. For instance, they will try to leverage systems for functionalities that simply aren’t within their scopes. This is common with ERP systems. However, there is another system that organizations extend beyond its means — Salesforce.com.

Salesforce.com has grown in popularity among companies, driving them to want to do everything within the system. According to the common adage, there’s an app for that, people generally expect simple solutions for just about every technological need. And while Salesforce.com is an easy solution for managing customer relationships, it’s not the right program for everything.

If your company attempts to use Salesforce.com to automate and streamline contract lifecycle management, you’re missing out on key steps and critical functionalities. From a contracting perspective, organizations should only use Salesforce.com for three things:

  1. Search
  2. Request
  3. Track

Sales teams tend to think that they only need to be able to search for existing agreements, request new agreements, and track the status of an agreement when managing contracts. And in that case, since much of this information lives in Salesforce.com, many sales teams attempt to leverage the system to execute the entire contracting process.

However from a contracting perspective, Salesforce.com lacks critical functionality that is essential to successful automated contract management, such as authoring, rendering, redlining, and approving. Salesforce.com doesn’t effectively manage these functional requirements of contract management. Because of this, companies should adopt a full-fledged contract management system.

Here are three reasons why proper contract management is best performed in a focused contract management solution:

1. Functionality. Salesforce.com is the clear leader in CRM, but contract rendering, authoring, reviewing, redlining, approving, storing, and securing aren’t key customer relationship functions. These steps require contract expertise, and must be completely auditable and secure. Organizations that bog down their CRM solutions with other functions often see a decreased performance in the true CRM capabilities (the reason for the purchase in the first place).

2. Scalability. As businesses grow, so do their contract volumes. Systems unprepared to handle large quantities of documents fail to scale when an organization needs it most.

3. Licenses. The number of people needed to move a contract from initiation through approval can end up being much larger than originally anticipated. Sales, marketing, administration, contracting, legal, finance, channel management, and procurement each have their own role in the contracting process. Now think about how many of these departments currently have access to Salesforce.com. The number of Salesforce.com licenses required might need to double, triple, or more to ensure all the right people have access. And that’s not practical or cheap.

Most organizations seek the maximum return on their enterprise software investment. However, forcing systems to work considerably outside of their “comfort zones” is a slippery slope. By stretching solutions in the search of maximum ROI, companies might cost themselves more in the end.

Organizations can source a dedicated contract lifecycle management system that integrates with Salesforce.com, but adopting a system that performs the contract heavy lifting outside of Salesforce.com is often a better solution. Organizations can still utilize Salesforce.com for contract initiation and monitoring, but by implementing a singular contract management system, organizations no longer have to fear the headaches associated with asking systems to work outside of their comfort zones.